The Ruthless Power of Bhakti Yoga
Love is a word that can evoke many different meanings. It is usually associated with the deep feeling of affection for someone else or the pleasure derived from something you really enjoy—like ice cream or your favorite object—your diamond ring. Love is also a word for a special relationship or sexual bond with someone else. It is a word that connotes two instead of one—it is predicated on you and other or you and something that you love. Love of God is devotion, but is devotion the same the same as the human emotion of love or something else? What is the real nature of Bhakti or love of God?
Bhakti is an ancient word that means liberation from the karmic wheel of suffering. It is a path, practice, and way of life—loving God as Love. This practice fundamentally ends the relationship with other. It is loving the omniscience of the divine with all your heart and all your mind and all your body—total love. A love so total you vanish in the infinitude Bhakti represents. The teaching of Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is the combination of Bhakti Marga (Devotion) and Jnana Marga (Wisdom). Both paths lead to liberation or moksha—unbounded happiness.
The mārga (path) of Jnana is knowledge and the path of Bhakti is love—the two side of the mountain path of Arunachala Siva. The nature of Bhakti Yoga, or the practice of devotion, is surrender—falling in love with God so deeply that you recognize the divine love in you, which is not separate from God. This fierce devotion represents a radical shift in consciousness from the ‘me’ who loves God to the direct experience that you are the vast consciousness of the heart—loving love as love—love itself. This is the nature of Bhakti—the purest love as love. In pure bhakti the sense of ‘me’ vanishes in complete union with the divine—ecstatic unending love.
The yoga of Bhakti is now. It is total surrender to the omniscience of your heart. If you surrender to love you end up in the Jana or divine knowledge. If you surrender to divine knowledge you end up in love or Bhakti—both paths are irrevocably intertwined—one leads to the other. Ultimately, whether you chose the path of love or knowledge you end up in Love—the ruthless fire of divine grace with the intrinsic power to destroy the source of all suffering—the ‘me’ you think you are—ego. It is a deep seeing through the mirage of your ego.
This mirage of your ego is the reflective consciousness that hides the living truth of love in the core of your being. The power of love is ruthless—it is not the cuddly teddy bear love of a hallmark card. It is a fierce fire of grace that destroys all that is false—it reveals that the ego is the great illusion infused with your senses that keeps you trapped in endless cycles of suffering.
It is natural to fall in love with your teacher or guru—who is the embodiment of divine love that reveals your divine nature. This love of teacher is the fire of bhakti the fire of love alive in your heart. It is total union with the heart of Siva—the formless presence of God.
The poetry of Rumi is the embodiment of Bhakti. His famous words open your heart to the living truth of Bhakti—close your eyes, fall in love, stay there—this is the essence of Bhakti Yoga.
This yoga of love is the one pointed focus on this source of everything—the omniscience alive in your heart. It is this falling in love with love that sets you free from the illusion of you.
This purification of mind develops the one-pointed attention on the source essential for liberation.